1. Brett Kavanaugh’s priorities, Faith and family are the Supreme Court nominee’s greatest priorities. 

By Ashley McGuire and Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with the Catholic Association and the author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.” Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is legal adviser for the Catholic Association Foundation, The Washington Times, July 18, 2018, Pg. B4, Opinion

President Trump just introduced to the nation his nominee for the next justice on the U.S. Supreme Court: Brett Kavanaugh. Judge Kavanaugh then introduced the nation to someone perhaps a bit unexpected: Monsignor John Enzler. In a short and poignant speech that revealed Judge Kavanaugh’s biggest priorities, faith and family, he highlighted his mother and father, his wife and children, and the president and CEO of Catholic Charities.

“I am part of the vibrant Catholic community in the D.C. area,” he said. “The members of that community disagree about many things, but we are united by a commitment to serve. Father John Enzler is here. Forty years ago, I was an altar boy for Father John. These days, I help him serve meals to the homeless at Catholic Charities.”

Judge Kavanaugh didn’t just highlight his faith, he got right to what his faith is truly about — service to others. And perhaps no other Catholic organization exemplifies that better than Catholic Charities. The local and national impact of Catholic Charities is staggering. Last year more than 6,800 men and women volunteered for Catholic Charities D.C. alongside Judge Kavanaugh. Regarded as the largest independent social service agency in the Washington, D.C., area, Catholic Charities D.C. estimates serving more than 142,000 men, women and children in and around the nation’s capital alone.

When Pope Francis came to visit Washington, D.C., in September 2015, he observed that “[c]harity is born of the call of a God who continues to knock on our door, the door of all people, to invite us to love, to compassion, to serve one another.” This call to charity is wonderfully responded to in the range of services provided by Catholic Charities.

Less than two days after his nomination to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh was again serving the hungry as a volunteer (a commitment Msgr. Enzler specifically remarked was made long ago). In highlighting the work of Catholic Charities, Judge Kavanaugh has already used his newfound celebrity to do a service to others. It gives us a taste of the kind of man he is, and reminds us all of one of the District’s most effective vehicles for helping one’s fellow man.


2. Memo to Vatican reformers: Don’t take cues from the gas company.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, July 18, 2018

For those inclined to grouse about Vatican inefficiency, however, here’s a tip: Try living in Italy for 6 months, and then let’s talk.

The truth is that the Vatican, at its core, is an Italian institution, reflecting the patterns and assumptions of the surrounding Italian culture. That remains the case despite various attempts to “internationalize” the Church’s central government over the years, including those by Pope Francis.

In that context, the surprise about the Vatican probably isn’t that it occasionally can be ponderous – it’s more likely that anything ever gets done at all.

Quite often, would-be Vatican reformers fall into the trap of seeking structural solutions to what are, in reality, cultural problems. That’s arguably been a fatal flaw, for instance, of various attempts to modernize the Vatican’s financial systems over the years.

To this day, for instance, there hasn’t been a consolidated annual financial statement from the Vatican since the first year of Francis’s papacy, and no audit of the Vatican’s books, despite repeated claims that both those developments are right around the corner.

On another front, three years after Pope Francis decreed a reform of the Church’s process for granting annulments, official Vatican statistics show that few bishops around the world are actually taking advantage of the abbreviated procedure – a delay which many experts blame, at least in part, on the fact that the Vatican was slow in producing explanations of how it was supposed to be done.

To be sure, the classic Italian mindset of paziena, or “patience,” can be a useful antidote to frenzy and a way of being sure the system doesn’t go off half-cocked.

In bureaucratic contexts, however, it can also be little more than a smokescreen for non-performance.


3. Papal confidantes rue prosperity gospel, distorted ‘American dream’. 

By Christopher White, Crux, July 18, 2018

In a follow-up to their much-discussed July 2017 article condemning an alliance between conservative U.S. Catholics and Evangelicals as an “ecumenism of hate,” papal confidantes Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro and Presbyterian pastor Marcelo Figueroa have published a new essay in which they criticize the “prosperity gospel” and its influence on the idea of the “American Dream.”

In their latest essay in the influential Rome-based Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, the authors argue that the prosperity gospel, which traces its origins to the Unites States in the late 19th-century, views wealth and success as synonymous with true religious conviction, and consequently, sees “poverty, sickness and unhappiness” as a lack of faith.

Spadaro, who is Italian, and Figueroa, an Argentinian, chronicle the global embrace of the prosperity gospel movement, which has swept across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In their essay, however, the two specifically identify its origins in the United States, where the American Dream – the idea that the country is a place of “open opportunity” where migrants can pursue the prospect of success in ways “unreachable in their old world” – has been translated into religious belief, defined by affluence.

Although U.S. President Donald Trump’s name is only mentioned once in the article’s text – along with multiple footnote citations – the two clearly see the current occupant of the Oval Office, a wealthy businessman turned politician, as emblematic of their criticisms that a theology defined by prosperity has, in Pope Francis’s words, “overshadow[ed] the Gospel of Christ.”


4. Judge: Catholic agency must consider same-sex couples for foster placement. 

By Matthew Gambino, Catholic News Service, July 18, 2018

A federal judge has swept away claims of religious discrimination by plaintiffs including Catholic Social Services of the Philadelphia Archdiocese and ruled the church agency must provide home assessments for same-sex couples wishing to provide foster care for at-risk children in Philadelphia.

The Catholic agency’s leadership testified in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia that doing so would amount to Church approval of LGBT relationships.

Catholic teaching emphasizes respect and compassion for LGBT persons but opposes homosexual acts as contrary to God’s plan for human sexuality, which is reserved only for marriage between one man and one woman.

In a ruling late July 13, Judge Petrese B. Tucker denied a temporary restraining order that CSS had sought to resume referrals of foster children from the city’s Department of Human Services. DHS had frozen intake of new foster cases with CSS last May, no longer referring some of the 6,000 city children in need of care to CSS-affiliated foster parents.


5. Planned Parenthood sues Idaho over abortion reporting law. 

By Rebecca Boone, Associated Press July 17, 2018, 6:43 PM

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands is suing the state of Idaho in federal court over new abortion reporting requirements that critics say are unconstitutional and intended to stigmatize women seeking medical care.

Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit in Idaho’s U.S. District Court on Tuesday, asking a judge to declare the reporting law void.

The law, which went into effect July 1, created a list of what lawmakers deemed to be complications of abortion, and it required health professionals to report when they occurred. The list includes things that can typically occur in the immediate days after an abortion, such as bleeding, as well as things that are rare and typically considered by doctors to be unrelated to abortion procedures like an allergic reaction to anesthesia.